How to get to know a city!


I referred a primary school job in Hangzhou to an ESL teacher yesterday. The candidate asked me what tier Hangzhou is. To be honest, I was a little bit surprised when I saw the question. Hangzhou is Tier one city in China, which is after Shanghai. Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Beijing. It’s one of the greatest cities in China that most Chinese would like to travel and live.

After a while, I felt it’s very common that foreigners don’t know Chinese cities, such as Hangzhou, since most what they heard or saw on the paper are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Except those four super big cities, they knew nothing about China. So they may feel uncertain when they get job opportunities from other cities.

Except the cities that foreigners are not familiar with, most foreigners are concern that the cities are too small with few foreigners there and no activities that they can do during their spare time. Many foreigners still think China was like 50 years ago, poor and lack of resource. That’s a misunderstanding.

I have been in the states for 4 years and gonna many cities. So I know the cities in the states and I also know the cities in China. Since there is a large population in China, even in tier 3 or 4 cities the number of people is larger than the number of people in the capital of many states in the USA, such as Indianapolis. Shopping malls, restaurants, markets and gyms are everywhere and very easy to access. There are also many foreigners in China, from big cities to small cities. Foreigners can ask the school whether there are other ESL teachers working in the school during the interview.

During spare time, ESL teachers can go to gyms, cinemas or shopping malls. Sometimes, the training centers are in the shopping mall, so the teachers can go to gym or cinema after classes, which is very convenient.

What you can do to help you learn a Chinese city before coming to China.

First, try to search the city online and find some videos.

There are plenty of videos and news about cities in China, especially some tourist websites, which includes entertainment, where to go, activities, meals and even the cost of livings in the city. ESL teachers can take a look before they decide whether the city is good for them. Although the cost of living may be higher than actual cost of living, it’s still a good resource to look at it.

Second, ask the school where the school is located.

If the school is located in the city, then there is no worries. In China, there are shopping malls, gyms , restaurants, supermarkets everywhere. It’s very easy to find one close to the school. However, if it’s out of town, then it’s a little bit hard to get access to gyms, shopping malls and markets. Therefore, making sure where the school is located is very important.

Third, checking the cities close to your working city.

Generally, if the city is small, it’s a satellite city of a big one. For example, there are many small cities close to shanghai. They are all very good cities with lower cost of living than shanghai, which is more suitable for people living there. Therefore,I always recommend ESL teachers going to small cities close to big ones.

In conclusion, don’t turn down the job opportunities from a city that you are not familiar with before you do some research. You may lost a great opportunity because of that.